Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Writing to Christians in the earliest of days following Jesus’ death and resurrection, James speaks of the importance of not being deceived. That strikes me as nearly unnecessary. Why would followers of Jesus need to be warned about being deceived?
Consider these four deceptions about God and his gifts to his people – and all people for that matter. I offer these in reverse order of their potential danger.
- God doesn’t give good gifts. Most followers of Jesus realize how dangerous such an idea is; they reject this notion outright. We know that God gives good gifts and we are thankful to God for these gifts. We do need to be warned against such despair, however, when we are in difficult times.
- God’s good gifts are something we deserve. It is so easy to consider ourselves as not only deserving of God’s good gifts, but as something to which we are entitled. We must embrace God’s gifts as acts of his grace and not as entitlements if we are to maintain a proper humility before God.
- God has nothing to do with good or bad things that happens to us. God is at work in the world and in our lives. He has not simply wound up the clock to let it run out over time. He is active and engages in the lives of all people for the purpose of bringing us to faith in Jesus and having abundant eternal life in Jesus’ name.
- The most dangerous deception is to believe that we don’t need to be warned of possible deceptions such as these. We battle sin of all kinds, the gravest of which is the sin of thinking we do not need God, or the correction or the warnings of his word.
God gives good gifts: the best of which is his Son for our salvation. The second best is his work in our hearts to bring us to faith. The remainder are wonderful additions and displays of his goodness, faithfulness, and love.
What gifts would you number among those God has given you in the past year?